ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - A former Orange County teacher is sharing her story after her resignation letter was published in the Washington Post, sparking a national discussion on what should be taught in the classroom.
Maren Hicks is the former Orange County Public School teacher whose 'bitter resignation letter' made national headlines after it was published in the Washington Post. And for the first time, she is sharing what compelled her to go public.
Maren says that "I've always believed you should speak up if you think something isn't right. That's very hard to do. I felt like this was the perfect opportunity."
Most recently, Maren taught first-grade at Arbor Ridge. She says that even in the first grade, children were showing signs of anxiety and had changes in their behavior. She belies there is one main reason why.
Maren went on to say that "we used to take care of the whole child. That's where they got their coping skills and learned how to interact with one another as humans. Now, its academics, academics."
Fox 35 reported last week that dozens of teachers have actually already left the school system this year, citing the 'testing to teach' process as the reason.
A spokeswoman for Orange County Public Schools released the following statement.
Orange County Public Schools is committed to the success of our teachers. Their impact is transformative in the lives of our students, and we aim to continue supporting them in the classroom, while fostering an environment in which our team is highly motivated and dedicated. In fact, we’re proud that during the 2017-18 school year we had an 89 percent retention rate for teachers.
OCPS has been and continues to follow all state and federal laws when it comes to testing, teacher evaluation and required curriculum. Many of the resources and collaborative efforts we implement are for the benefit of our students and are done in an effort to provide the same level of education across the district. We will continue our collaborative efforts with our schools, our families and the community to provide the highest quality education for our students.
Maren responded to this, saying that "this is what education is about -- receiving new information and modifying along the way. You are always modifying and reflecting as a teacher. The county needs to do that too."
Maren resigned from Orange County Public Schools at the end of last year. She now works at a charter school in Sanford, where she feels supported in her teaching methods. She says that she only hopes all districts, including Orange County Public Schools, make changes before more teachers leave.